Native texts of the Amazonian rain forest have been viewed as myth or ethnographic matter-the raw material of literature-rather than as significant works in their own right. But in this unprecedented study, Lzcia Sa approaches indigenous texts as creative works rather than source material.
Disclosing the existence and nature of longstanding, rich, and complex Native American literary and intellectual traditions that have typically been neglected or demeaned by literary criticism, Rain Forest Literatures analyzes four indigenous cultural traditions: the Carib, Tupi-Guarani, Upper Rio Negro, and Western Arawak. In each case, Sa considers principal native texts and, where relevant, their publication history. She offers a historical overview of the impact of these texts on mainstream Spanish-American and Brazilian literatures, detailing comparisons with native sources and making close analyses of major instances, such as Mario de Andrade's classic Macunaima (1928) and Mario Vargas Llosa's The Storyteller (1986).
A redrawing of the lineage of Brazilian and Spanish-American literatures, this book advocates an understanding of the relationships between cultures as a process of "transculturation" rather than "acculturation"-a process that emphasizes the often-ignored impact of the peripheral culture on the one that assumes dominance.
Lzcia Sa is assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Stanford University.